MANILA, Philippines - Low cost carrier AirAsia Berhad of Malaysia through local arm Philippines’ AirAsia Inc. has finally completed a deal entered into two months ago with Zest Airways Inc. of business tycoon Alfredo Yao.
AirAsia which controls 40 percent of Philippines’ AirAsia has acquired an 85- percent economic interest and 49 percent voting rights in ZestAir as well as a 100- percent interest in Yao’s Asiawide Airways Inc.
In exchange, Yao’s ZestAir that operates at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) got $16 million as well as 13-percent interest in Philippines’ AirAsia that is currently based at the Clark International Airport in Pampanga. The transaction was completed last May 10.
Following the acquisition, Philippines’ AirAsia will be able to access NAIA, and take advantage of the additional passenger traffic connecting to other parts of the Philippines, AirAsia said.
ZestAir is controlled by Yao through AMCY Holdings while AirAsia Group through chief executive officer Tan Sri Tony Fernandes has a 40-percent interest in Philippines’ AirAsia with Antonio “Tonyboy” Cojuangco Jr., Michael Romero and Marianne Hontiveros owning 20 percent each.
Philippines’ AirAsia and ZestAir entered into a strategic alliance agreement last March 11. Under the partnership, Philippines’ AirAsia would invest in ZestAir by acquiring a 49 percent stake in Zest Airways and 100 percent in Asiawide Airways.
The proposed investment in ZestAir would complement the strategies for future growth of Philippines AirAsia which operates out of Clark while ZestAir operates at the NAIA.
“With this partnership in place, other than our current base in Clark, Philippines’ AirAsia would be able to operate from the main airport in Manila as well. This helps us to attract feeder traffic into Clark and leverage on Zest Air’s attractive slots from Manila,” Hontiveros said in statement.
Hontiveros, who is chief executive officer of Philippines’ AirAsia, said ZestAir inventory is now available on AirAsia website and will be part of the AirAsia Group’s network and would enhance access to North Asia.
The investment in Philippine AirAsia aligns with the AirAsia Group’s business strategy with existing operations in Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Japan, and the Philippines as well as India making it the largest Asian low cost carrier.
The AirAsia Group believes that the number of tourists visiting the Philippines would continue to grow as the Department of Tourism (DOT) sees 10 million tourists by 2016.
“Tourist arrivals in the Philippines continue to post remarkable growth which augurs well for AirAsia and the aviation industry,” the budget airline added.
As of May 22, the AirAsia Group has a total fleet of 124 Airbus A320 aircraft and is expecting 356 more aircraft to be delivered up to 2026. Of the total fleet, AirAsia Malaysia uses 67 followed by Thailand AirAsia with 29, Indonesia AirAsia with 22, AirAsia Japan with four, and Philippines’ AirAsia with two.